U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE ________________________________________________________ The State Department does not guarantee the authenticity of documents on the Internet. If for legal or other reasons you require the original version of a document in hard copy, please contact the Office of Public Communication, Bureau of Public Affairs. Note that State Department information is not copyrighted unless indicated and can be reproduced without consent. Citation of source is appreciated. Permission to reproduce any copyrighted material (including photos or graphics) must be obtained from the original source. ________________________________________________________ U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN DAILY PRESS BRIEFING September 14, 1994 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Wednesday, September, 14 1994 Briefers: Melinda Kimble Michael McCurry WORLD TRADE UN World Trade Efficiency Summit Opens in US on October 17 .............................1-2 ALGERIA Release of Islamic Leaders ..................3 HAITI UN Special Report on Human Rights/UN Resolution ................................3,13-14 Multinational Force/Countries Participating .4-15 Canadian Foreign Minister to Visit Secretary .................................5 Military Leaders/Departure/Arrest ...........5-7,14-16 US Interests ................................9 Transition from Phase I to Phase II .........10 Safety of Americans/Haitians ................11-12 Return of President Aristide ................12-13 NORTH KOREA Expert Discussions with US ..................16-18 BOSNIA Contact Group Discussions/Serbian Border ....18-19 UN Peacekeepers/US Contribution .............19-20 Prospects for Lifting Arms Embargo ..........20-21 CUBA Safehavens/Transfers from Guantanamo ........21-25 System for Immigrating to US ................23-26 CHINA Under Secretary Tarnoff's Visit .............26-27
DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 1994, 12:42 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. McCURRY: Good afternoon, everybody. You have got a lot of questions today, but I've got one thing that I need to share with you. It's related to the Business Round Table that is occurring here later on today.
I think many of you may not have checked in yet to the fact that over 100 trade ministers and other high- ranking officials will be going to Columbus, Ohio, in October, from October 17th to the 21st, for the World Trade Efficiency Summit which is being sponsored by the U. N. Conference on Trade and Development, UNCTAD. That is a very significant session, and it relates directly to one of this Administration's top foreign policy priorities, which is to advance the economic interests of the United States as we deal globally in our diplomacy.
I thought it would be helpful if we just could do this briefly today, because I know you have got other things you need to ask about. But I have asked Melinda Kimble, who is the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs, to come down and tell you a little more about the summit in Columbus, a little more about the event that is occurring here in the Department today.
Melinda handles Global Affairs in the IO Bureau, and I have been working on this. There has been a huge inter-agency effort underway on UNCTAD as well, and it is important for you all to have some sense of the importance of that, and also what we are doing here later on today.
With that, Deputy Assistant Secretary Melinda Kimble.
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY KIMBLE: Thank you, very much. It is extremely hard to compete with the other events on your agenda, I'm sure, but I would like to say just a couple of things about the World Trade Efficiency Summit in Columbus, Ohio, in October.
The silk routes of the 2lst century will be fiber optic cables and microwave links, and that is what Columbus is about. It is the most practical United Nations conference in history.
We have used the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development to set up a global information network, computer-linked network, that links into what we know as the Internet and the Information Highway, to ensure small- and medium-size business everywhere in the world can access the global market place.
There can be no better time to have this conference occur than now, with the completion of the Uruguay Round, with NAFTA in place, with APEC trade initiatives falling in place on the United States agenda.
This is a conference that promotes the best of United States technology. Obviously we are the leader in both telecommunications networks and computer and software technology for this initiative.
We are going to showcase how this technology works today in a business round table, and have a technical presentation of how the United States Government is promoting this initiative to serve both our business and that of business everywhere in the world.
Trade will underpin both economic development and global prosperity tomorrow and in the next century, and I believe this conference is one of the best realizations of that fact of life, so we hope that you will come to Columbus. We expect to have 187 countries represented there.
Ron Brown will be chairing the ministerial portion of the conference and will be leading the United States delegation. As soon as our entire plans firm up as to participation in Columbus, we will give you more details about it.
But I can assure you that trade efficiency in the U.N. language is really telecommunications technology portrayed. We are the leader in this technology. This conference fits into the Clinton Administration's agenda to promote small- and medium-size business in the United States, and it is going to be one of the most powerful development tools for the global economy in the next century.
Thank you, very much.
MR. McCURRY: Any questions? Okay. Thank you.
(Following Deputy Assistant Secretary Kimble's statement, the daily briefing continued at 12:46 p.m.)
MR. McCURRY: I've got a couple other items. I think I will elevate this lectern, if you don't mind. Just to show you how less than high tech the State Department is, we have to hand crank this. Most people have one of those little buttons that make the lectern elevate.
A couple of items, to start with. First a statement on Algeria.
It has long been the United States Government's view that the path to peaceful resolution of Algeria's current crisis lies through dialogue and a return to a political process. We therefore are encouraged by reports that key Algerian Islamic opposition leaders have been released or transferred from prison.
This action by President Zeroual, coming after recent encouraging statements by Islamic leaders, offers hope for the start of a process of national reconciliation and an end to violence in Algeria.
We call on all parties to make every effort to seize this opportunity and to resist efforts by extremists to undermine it.
I've got another one, a follow-up from yesterday. After John Shattuck's presentation, we got into some questions about whether or not the United States would raise or discuss in the venue of the United Nations some of the human rights abuses in Haiti that he was discussing, and the answer to that is that the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly will hear an interim report of a special rapporteur on human rights conditions in Haiti in their up-coming session.
The report will cover many of the documented human rights abuses in Haiti, including some of the information that we have corroborated through our own Embassy and have provided to the United Nations.
On the basis of that special rapporteur's report, the UNGA will undoubtedly then adopt a resolution that will condemn the current regime's many human rights abuses.
Obviously the United States Government will vigorously support such a resolution and seek to see that it is passed.
Q If it's still in place.
MR. McCURRY: If the current regime is still in place, correct.
Lastly, on the multinational force, you all recall that the Secretary of State was here Monday to tell you that 17 countries had committed -- at that time, 17 countries have committed to providing military and police personnel to the multinational coalition envisioned under U. N. Security Council Resolution 940, to intervene, if necessary, in Haiti to bring about the departure of the de facto regime.
Two other countries, Grenada and St. Kitts/Nevis have now stated that they will work with the multinational coalition force to implement U. N. Security Council Resolution 940.
As we continue to work, as our military planners continue to work with the contributing nations in the multinational force, they keep adjusting the force size in some of the units that will participate. So the overall number of foreign troops and police personnel -- this is a combination of both military units and police monitors -- the total number is now up to roughly 2,000.
Those numbers will continue to change as we get closer to the time that the multinational force might be asked to go to Haiti.
Q Mike, Strobe said 20 nations in his interview this morning on CNN. You brought it up to 19.
MR. McCURRY: I brought it up to 19, and we do expect other countries to be added in coming days. But I think he was rounding off.
Q Is Canada included?
MR. McCURRY: It is currently not on the list of 19.
Q Are you trying -- are you entreating Canada to participate?
MR. McCURRY: We have had, as the Canadian Government has indicated, very good discussions with them about participating. I think they have made clear through their Foreign Ministry that they don't envision participating in the initial wave of Phase I envisioned by U. N. Security Council Resolution 940.
But I believe through the public comments of the government of Canada, they have indicated they might have special expertise that could be helpful at later stages in the U. N. operation. But I would leave that to the government of Canada. They have said that, I believe, publicly, and we continue to have very useful conversations with them.
I believe Foreign Minister Ouellet will be here tomorrow seeing the Secretary, among others.
Q Are these firm commitments? I mean, after all, these are nations with their own sovereignty. Any concern that they might, if it doesn't work exactly right, simply drop out?
MR. McCURRY: Well, there is no reason to believe that any operation would not work. In fact, we believe it would work very, very well, based on the extensive planning that had occurred, and, yes, these are very firm commitments because we have waited -- there are a number of countries beyond those that we have discussed publicly that have indicated a willingness to participate, but we wait until those governments choose to share that information with their own citizens before we add them to the list that we share with you.
That's one of the reasons why the working numbers are somewhat higher than those that we have been using publicly.
Q Is the Administration in recent days been talking with other nations about accepting Cedras and his colleagues under a sound basis?
MR. McCURRY: Not so far as I know. I'd have to check with others who are directly involved, but I'm not aware of any conversations like that.
Q Are you talking to India in your list of 19.
MR. McCURRY: No. I believe they, through their own public statements, have indicated some willingness to participate in the follow-on U.N. mission that will go to Haiti after the initial multinational force creates a permissive environment. But I'm not aware that they've said publicly they would participate in Phase I, the multinational force phase.
Q Do you have anything today on a vital pre- invasion warning to the military?
MR. McCURRY: I don't. We've indicated a number of times that the President has a variety of options that he could pursue as we get into the final hours, the final seconds before it's necessary to dispatch a multinational intervention force to Haiti. He will review those options, select those means that are best structured to deliver the necessary message, but it can't be anything but clear to the de facto regime that they have no choice but to depart. That has been made clear over and over again by the public comments of senior officials in this government.
The only reason to exchange that message in some other way would be if it were believed that might effectively convince them of the necessity of their departure now.
Q I'd just like to follow up on Sid's question. In terms of making arrangements for them to go elsewhere, are you saying that should the military give a signal to the Ambassador or to you directly today, this afternoon, tomorrow morning, you would start from scratch to try and find some place for them to go?
MR. McCURRY: I didn't say, no. I think, as the Secretary indicated to you Monday, should they make a positive indication that they're willing to depart, arrangements could be made. We have thought about that, obviously.
Q What's the arrangements? What specifically do you mean?
MR. McCURRY: I'm not going to get into specifics.
Q Congressman Hamilton this morning suggested a last-minute effort, as when Bush sent James Baker to talk to Tariq Aziz.
Does the Secretary of State stand ready to make such an effort if that's one of the options that the President chooses?
MR. McCURRY: The Chairman, as always, is very thoughtful on a question like that and making sure that every diplomatic avenue is available right up to the last minute to avert an intervention. It is something that we are willing to pursue, we'll think about pursuing, and we'll have options available to the President to pursue.
Q But that's very specific. The question is about Christopher, per se; right? The rest is specifically about the Secretary of State. Will the Secretary of State be ready to move to go down to Port- au-Price to retreat --
MR. McCURRY: He would do so only at the direction of the President. And, as I said, the President, has got options available to him under consideration. I decline to specify whether that is, in fact, one of the options.
Q One of the other things that Hamilton said: He has complained that he has been unable to determine Aristide's attitude towards an invasion. I'm not sure I know his attitude towards an invasions. I'm wondering whether the United States knows about his attitude towards a possible invasion?
MR. McCURRY: Absolutely. We have had very close and almost daily contact with President Aristide. He has very publicly committed himself to support of U.N. Security Council Resolution 940 and has been, with our help, broadcasting a message of national reconciliation to the citizens of Haiti. So he is fully supportive of the efforts organized under the auspices of the U.N. Security Council resolution to effect the restoration of democracy in Haiti. He has reaffirmed that in meetings very recently with Special Advisor Gray.
Q He has expressly endorsed the use of force to reinstate democracy in Haiti?
MR. McCURRY: He has acted consistent with the Haitian constitution to express his support of the efforts of the world community to bring about the restoration of democracy.
Q Mike, back to the military participation of the 19 countries. Has it been defined yet, or will it be? And will we be informed as to which countries will providing what roles in the Phase I in the military action?
MR. McCURRY: If it became necessary at some point to employ the multinational force and to deploy it into action, my strong suspicion is that military authorities at the Pentagon would be in a position to brief on the component elements of the intervention force.
Q This has not been set up, as far as you know?
MR. McCURRY: The briefings?
Q Well, no. The actual planning, has that been set?
MR. McCURRY: There have been extensive and meticulous planning of all aspects of any prospective operation involving Haiti.
Q Mike, you just used the phrase, "If it became necessary to deploy the multinational force." Earlier, you spoke about averting an intervention, on the contacts of the question about Christopher.
Secretary Talbott didn't indicate that there was any opportunity left to avert an intervention. Are you drawing a distinction between "invasion" and "intervention?"
MR. McCURRY: I'm making it clear. I think it's important to distinguish between an intervention that would go into a hostile environment to effect the departure of the de facto regime and the deployment of a multinational force and then eventually a U.N. mission in a different context -- one in which the de facto regime had voluntarily stepped aside.
As I think everyone here would agree it is abundantly clear, there's very little likelihood that the de facto regime is going to step aside but that is a possibility right up to the last minute.
Q But would that avert an intervention?
MR. McCURRY: No. It would not avert -- your question is directed to, "Will it be necessary for a force to go to Haiti to create a permissive environment so that the U.N. mission can be deployed so that the work can continue to rebuild Haiti and to effect the restoration of democracy?" The answer is, one way or another, such a force will have to go to Haiti, as Deputy Secretary Talbott indicated earlier today.
Q You said, "If it became necessary to deploy the MNF," you really meant "When it becomes necessary?"
MR. McCURRY: I meant in a hostile environment aimed at removing the de fact regime still in place. I'm happy to clarify that.
But, Ralph, it's a good point. Everyone does need to understand that there will be an effort to create that permissive environment necessary in Haiti so that the U.N. mission can then go about the work of helping to effect the transformation of Haiti and the restoration of democracy.
Q Mike, could you elaborate on how Israel became involved in this? And, also, can you tell us whether you've requested the participation of Saudi Arabia and Egypt?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know the answer to the second question. I think the Government of Israel can tell you best how it made a decision to participate in a duly authorized operation of the United Nations.
Did we have our own independent bilateral discussions with them? Of course, we did, because we're playing a major and very important leadership role in the multinational force. But the Government of Israel was responding to a U.N. Security Council resolution. It makes it own decisions and can discuss them as it sees fit.
Q Chairman Hamilton also said today that in his view there was no vital U.S. interest at stake in Haiti. He said that President Aristide is, at best, an unreliable U.S. partner but that the invasion must go forward because it's too late now to turn around and not lose face, as it were.
Has this now become a "must do" mission to salvage American credibility? And, if so, how does that square with the White House test of deploying U.S. troops?
MR. McCURRY: You've heard the Secretary of State, you've heard others. I believe you'll hear the President of the United States tomorrow describe exactly the nature of the U.S. national interests that are at stake in Haiti, and they go well beyond the credible role that we must play as a leader in the new post-Cold War era. That is, indeed, an important element of the decision-making underway about Haiti but it goes well beyond that, too.
We have a vital interest in controlling the flow of refugees from Haiti. We have got a manifest interest in the promotion of democracy in this hemisphere. And the attempt by a group of military leaders to rob the citizens of Haiti of their democracy at a point where it's fragile and taking root, is something that is enormously important throughout this hemisphere -- indeed, throughout the world -- and that is definitely in the manifest interest of the people of the United States of America.
We, obviously, as we talked about yesterday here, have an interest in curbing human rights abuses of vicious nature described by Assistant Secretary Shattuck yesterday. There are multiple and compelling U.S. interests at stake as we look at the problem of Haiti, and those will be discussed and will be discussed and have been discussed by the senior leadership of this government.
Q Mike, there have been suggestions that the human rights situation might get even worse in the buildup to or in the lead up to an invasion; that the de facto regime might start trying to eliminate Aristide supporters in the country. Is this a matter of concern to the United States?
MR. McCURRY: It is, of course, a matter of concern but it is entirely speculative at this point. We are not aware of that. We are aware of a deepening and worsening pattern of violence against the citizens of Haiti instigated by the military de facto leaders, or at least acquiesced to in many cases. That is a very real source of concern to us.
We don't have any concrete information that that worsens as a result of the impending action by a multinational force. It's bad enough already as it is.
Q Can I try --
MR. McCURRY: We're still on this for a bit.
Q Can you just describe once again, because I'm not sure I understand it, your understanding of how the decision to transition between Phase I and the UNMIH will be made? Who will have the authority to make the decision?
MR. McCURRY: Of when it is made?
MR. McCURRY: It will rely very heavily on the assessments provided by political authorities in Haiti and by military commanders on the ground in Haiti as they consult very directly with the U.N. Secretary General and the U.N. Secretariat. It will be a decision that will, in large part, be affected by the recommendation that comes from military commanders on the ground in consultation with political authorities, including the duly elected government of Haiti.
Q Sorry. If I could just follow up. How is it possible to avoid the situation which occurred in Somalia where the U.S. military declares the situation is ready for the transition and the Secretary General is not prepared necessarily to have a peacekeeping force there?
MR. McCURRY: Given the very careful and meticulous work that's been done with the United Nations on this point already, we don't foresee any problem in that respect.
Q Could you review, briefly again, the efforts that are being made to communicate to the people of Haiti to prepare them for an intervention?
MR. McCURRY: I am not sure I am fully prepared to do that. You've all seen television pictures of the types of leaflets that are being dropped. I can tell you that we continue to assist President Aristide in communicating directly with the citizens of Haiti, through the broadcasts that we've helped him to direct to his citizens. They are all, I would stress, messages of national reconciliation, calling for the need to rebuild Haiti and to move on with the economic and political reconstruction of Haiti once democracy is restored.
But as to precisely how we are helping deliver that message and helping to prepare the citizens of Haiti for the likelihood of military action, that's something that I think the Pentagon is better prepared to address.
Q Are they getting these leaflets? There was one report that U.S. officials found no trace of some three million that were supposed to be dropped last weekend?
MR. McCURRY: I've seen actually television pictures indicating that they had been delivered, but I don't have any direct information here about that.
Q Let me sort of rephrase it. What should Haitian non-combatants -- women, children, men who are not fighting -- do once the invasion begins? What's the State Department's advice to them?
MR. McCURRY: They will get the proper advice they need from not only the broadcast of their duly elected President but from others who are in a better position to advise them on any impending military activity. It goes without saying that the sensible thing to do is to stay out of the way.
Q Have any special instructions gone out to American personnel there at the Embassy or elsewhere?
MR. McCURRY: Ambassador Swing will be meeting in a Town Meeting format with the U.S. citizen community in Haiti, which numbers between 3,000/3,500 people, most of which, by the way -- the majority of which are under age 18.
He will have a meeting with them to review the warden system. For those who are not familiar with the warden system, it is essentially a telephone or contact tree by which one American citizen in Haiti will notify several others. They will in turn notify several others so that people can be in contact with each other. They will do that both through telephone; in some cases, through radio, and some cases in person. But the importance of it is to keep the American community advised of the situation that exists.
Obviously, all of our travel warnings -- we, for a long time, have encouraged Americans not to travel to Haiti because of the conditions there. Those all stand in effect.
MR. McCURRY: I believe sometime over the weekend, Sid.
Q Just to follow up, are we encouraging Americans to get out now?
MR. McCURRY: I believe that we have encouraged them to get out for some time, ever since we had an ordered departure of our diplomatic personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince.
Q Can you give us a list of other countries that are going to participate in the UNMIH phase?
MR. McCURRY: In the UNMIH phase? I don't have that. We've been dealing more with the Phase I multinational force in recent days. We'll Contact the U.N. It's an assessed U.N. operation, so they are properly structuring the UNMIH -- the mission itself -- for its deployment down the road. But I'll see which countries have publicly said so far they would participate. I'll see if we can get that.
Q Speaking of Phase I -- seeking a clarification of something you said about 10 minutes ago. Did you speak about the possibility of there being several different military plans? One that would remove the leadership, another that would be a full-scale invasion, and perhaps other types of contingencies in this anticipated Haiti operation?
MR. McCURRY: No, I didn't describe that. There is a very fully integrated and detailed military plan that is available to the U.S. Commander-in-Chief. It includes the various multinational components of the force that is projected. That is obviously something I can't get into any great detail about.
Q Just one more on this. What kind of thought is being given to Aristide's actual return? If circumstances permit it, would the Administration and President Aristide like to make his return sort of an elaborate, heroic extravaganza? Or is it the idea that he'll come back in and just quietly assume office?
MR. McCURRY: President Aristide has only indicated in his own public discussion of this question, that his plan would be to return roughly 10 days following the multinational force, or the deployment of the multinational force. I suspect he'll have a great deal of work to do. I don't know how much time he'll have for festivities.
Q Mike, just a quick follow-up to the question Saul asked earlier. Has the Secretary of State spoken to Dante Fascell either for advice or the possibility of serving as an emissary?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know the answer to that. Charlie.
Q This morning Congressman Richardson was at the White House and afterwards came out and said that while he's received an invitation from Cedras to go, he won't go without the Administration's approval but "They don't want me to go." Is that true? And, if so, can you say why?
MR. McCURRY: I've already discussed that, Charlie. I've said the President has got a number of options that he'll review. I told you he hasn't decided to implement any of those at this point. That doesn't say he won't at some future date. And the identity of anyone who might travel, pursuant to one of those options, is something that I really wouldn't be prepared to get into, without even confirming that that might be an option.
Q What you've been saying several times: The President has options in front of him, but he has not yet decided what to do?
MR. McCURRY: He's got a very firm idea of how he wants to go, but there are certain decisions related to this that come in sequence before other decisions. I think he will proceed in an orderly way here.
Q You said that you're bringing up some of these human rights abuses before the third committee of the United Nations. Would any of these make it possible to prosecute Haitian leaders who leave the country? Duvalier is enjoying his retirement in France. Other dictators have managed to flee and have never been brought to justice. Will there be any attempt to do this?
MR. McCURRY: That would depend on whether the report of the Special Rapporteur includes a recommendation that a special tribunal be impaneled for such purpose. We would have to wait and see how that shakes out in the report of the U.N.
Barry, let's go to another topic.
Q Are you going to have a "Haiti" question now? (Laughter) The Secretary also spoke -- if you don't mind me sort of summarizing the U.S. position on Cedras. If he falls into your lap, you'll arrest him, but you wouldn't mind if he left; you're not going to do a house- to-house hunt.
You're putting out a series of papers saying, in effect, this fellow is war criminal -- terrible oppression in Haiti. How could you let a guy like that get out of your net? Why wouldn't you try to hunt him down, as I would suppose you would try to hunt down some of the Bosnian Serbs, except for maybe some -- the people you call "war criminals," I assume you want to see brought to justice; no?
MR. McCURRY: I believe you heard Deputy Secretary Talbott indicate that if we run across Cedras, he would be turned over to the duly elected government for justice to be done.
Q That doesn't square with the Riviera option?
MR. McCURRY: The Riviera option? From whence comes Riviera option?
Q I don't even have the use Riviera option. As I understand the U.S. position, we're not going to hunt the guy down. In fact, they're willing to arrange for him to leave the country provided he gets out -- gives up.
MR. McCURRY: Barry, if he happens to be somewhere in Haiti at the time a multinational force goes in, there are other tasks that the multinational force has in its mission plan related to the restoration of democracy. There's other important to work to do.
My guess is, at some point they might encounter Cedras, but it's hard to foresee that. I don't think there's a chance in the world that the General, if he remains in Haiti, is going to escape justice one way or another.
Q I suppose the question being asked, in view of what Shattuck said yesterday, is an out-of-court settlement still possible?
MR. McCURRY: I can't possibly speculate on that. Because among other things, the venue for doing justice for a citizen of Haiti who remains in Haiti will be the duly elected government. That will be something that, once democracy is restored and institutions that protect civil liberties and also enforce justice and law, once they are there and in place and restored, they can deal with the question of how they would prosecute anyone who is guilty of the types of unspeakable crimes described by Assistant Secretary Shattuck yesterday.
We're all getting off into a little bit of --
Q But catching these guys is not a priority, is that what you're saying?
MR. McCURRY: What?
Q Catching these guys is not sort of a mission priority of that force?
MR. McCURRY: There's a lot of very important work to be done to reconstruct Haiti, to return the duly elected government, to begin to rebuild that country so that they can enjoy the fruits of democracy and the prosperity that will come from market democracy. That will be the focus and the priority of the world community's efforts in Haiti.
By the way, a great deal of work had been done on that already -- just as meticulous planning going on about the economic reconstruction of Haiti that would follow-on any type of military action to restore democracy. At some point we might want to get into that in more detail.
Q Mike, what happens to the Haitian army? Will they be disbanded? Will they be interned?
MR. McCURRY: The Haitian army will be under new command. It is entirely conceivable that elements of the Haitian army would want to be supportive and helpful to the duly elected government once it returns. In fact, that would be very important in providing the type of support for a police force that could ensure civil order once democracy is returned.
There will predictably be an effort to identify those elements of the Haitian army and military that want to take advantage of the opportunity to assist President Aristide in the rebuilding of the country.
Q In the event that the military leadership decides to get out before an invasion, would they have access to any of their now frozen assets?
MR. McCURRY: I have no idea.
Q Could you ask?
MR. McCURRY: I can ask the Treasury Department to find out how that works. That's an Office of Foreign Assets Control question for Treasury. I'll see if Treasury has got an answer.
Q Can I ask you about another part of the world?
MR. McCURRY: Yes.
Q Haiti again. I'll come back to it.
Q Alright, Korea. Out in Berlin -- very little; nothing, in fact, being said about the talks. Appeals from there to us here to try to get the State Department to say something. And, specifically, have you offered to reimburse the North Koreans for those reactors?
MR. McCURRY: We have tried without much success to let you know that these expert level talks are highly technical that are underway. There's nothing about these talks in which points can be negotiated between the two sides. We can't make offers and get answers. That's not the purpose of these discussions. These are working- level technical discussions, as we described to you from the very beginning. They will feed into the work that Ambassador Gallucci will do, including his meeting on September 23. So ask me again after September 23 when the negotiators meet. They can negotiate questions like that. These experts who are meeting cannot.
Q Are they talking at least on a technical level about compensation for the reactor?
MR. McCURRY: They've talked about cost issues, what type of technology is under investigation, what costs might be. But they're not into a dialogue about how something could get paid for.
Ambassador Gallucci is traveling. Ambassador Gallucci has those types of discussions with his interlocutors. He's been in Tokyo. He will be in Seoul. I think he's probably in Seoul by now. That's where the action is. Not in Berlin.
Q On the subject of compensation for Korea, there's an AP report overnight which suggests that the United States Government paid almost a million dollars to the North Koreans for the bodies of some 46 U.S. servicemen killed during the Korean war and that they've set a sum of roughly $30,000 per recovered body that they want. Can you confirm any part of that story, or explain it to us?
MR. McCURRY: I understand from the Pentagon that the United States Government does not pay for remains or information leading to the recovery of remains related to war veterans. We do compensate foreign governments for fair and reasonable expenses associated with the recovery of remains. But you'll have to go to the Pentagon. This their issue.
Q Are the talks in Berlin over today?
MR. McCURRY: I think there was some expectation that today might be their last. I don't have anything that indicates that they have finished, but check in again tomorrow on that.
Q Have the North Koreans supplied the United States representative with an estimate of their power needs for the foreseeable future? It was one of the points (inaudible).
MR. McCURRY: They have had some discussions about alternate power sources. I think they've been fairly detailed discussions about what type of wattage, or whatever the correct technical description is. They have had discussions of that.
Q Have they informed the U.S. Representative that they have sealed the spent fuel rods in welded tanks?
MR. McCURRY: I would have to check and get the answer to that. I don't know the answer to that. But the IAEA does have inspectors in place who have been given some latitude to do certain types of inspections. It's probably easier to get that answer via the IAEA than it would be from the technical experts who are discussing this matter in Berlin, because they're on the scene, obviously, and have made, in recent days, on-site inspection of the spent fuel rods.
Q But that topic was to have been for discussion in Berlin, was it not?
MR. McCURRY: The status of the spent fuel rods?
Q I think it was described as safety of the fuel rods.
MR. McCURRY: That's correct.
Q Has there been an agreement reached on the safety of the fuel rods?
MR. McCURRY: Again, for the one millionth time, the people in Berlin do not reach agreements. They exchange information. Have they exchanged information related to the safety of the fuel rods? Yes. Does that result in any conclusion or move the ball on where the issues lies? No. Check in again after September 23. Let's not do this question again.
Q Wait a minute. So in terms of the safety issue, the fuel rods are no safer than they were before the Berlin talks began; is that correct?
MR. McCURRY: They are neither safer nor more dangerous than they were before. They are --
Q By definition, if they're still in place and if no changes have occurred to them, then they are less safe?
MR. McCURRY: Because on the theory that chemically they are corroding and decomposing over time, that is well beyond my technical expertise.
Q But it's not beyond the expertise of the people in Berlin who are discussing it?
MR. McCURRY: That's correct. They are discussing, how do you prolong the life of the spent fuel rods in current storage, in the pond storage; they can discuss what types of steps could be taken to keep them in place while the issue is being resolved in negotiations. They can look at all those types of issues.
What does that matter in the long run? I have no idea because it's going to depend on the discussions that are held that Ambassador Gallucci will have in Geneva.
Q Can you talk to just a little bit about the Serbian border with the Bosnian, and let us know? You remember, the Secretary, a couple of days ago, had a very strong statement, how skeptical he was of Milosevic's promise and said, if anything, we'd support only a temporary easing of the sanctions but the border would have to be observed, verified, etc., that it's been closed.
MR. McCURRY: Good reasons to be skeptical but also reasons to believe that certain steps are being taken that control and regulate those borders, and a very important need to have international observation along the border so that things can be verified. These are all matters that have been under review by the Contact Group and the International Conference on the former Yugoslavia and the UNEU representatives.
Q Does that -- is there -- are you getting any anyplace?.
MR. McCURRY: They have been having discussions. There's been no communiquU issued that I'm aware of that describes what type of progress may or may not have been made.
Q Was that topic also a subject of discussion when Talbott went to Russia to prepare for the U.S.- Russian summit?
MR. McCURRY: They touched upon Bosnia in the discussions they had but only briefly. It was one element. There's a very long agenda -- political issues --
Q Borders, specifically; and international observation of the borders, was that --
MR. McCURRY: I doubt it was discussed in that detail. I can check with Strobe.
Q Are U.S. ground troops involved still out of the question, given the meeting in Geneva yesterday with the Contact Group?
MR. McCURRY: Yes.
MR. McCURRY: Absent a political settlement that is being implemented in good faith by both parties.
Q How about the secure air fields while the peacekeepers depart?
MR. McCURRY: I'm not aware of any change in our views on the participation of ground forces in UNPROFOR operations prior to any political settlement that is being implemented in good faith by both parties.
Q We're talking across each other here. I'm talking about the departure of peacekeepers and discussions of protecting them when they depart.
MR. McCURRY: If and when UNPROFOR peacekeepers depart, it will most likely not be in connection with a peace settlement that's being implemented. I'm not aware of any change in our view that we're participating actively with UNPROFOR in a variety of parts of that operation but not on the ground.
Q As you know, the plans to depart has been made because of what the United States might or might not do by October 15, vis-a-vis the embargo. Could you clear up for us -- for me, anyway -- what it is that the United States is obligated to do by October 15 if there's no settlement by --
MR. McCURRY: As of right now, nothing.
MR. McCURRY: Right, as of the passage of the defense authorization bill in final form. The Conference Report is now on the Senate floor, I believe. There is language in that Conference Report that says the President of the United States must begin an effort by October 15 to attempt to lift multilaterally, at the United Nations, the existing arms embargo on the former Yugoslavia as it pertains to the Bosnian Government.
MR. McCURRY: The President indicated that is U.S. policy to attempt to lift.
Q Doesn't it also say, Mike, that November 15, if that's not done, they would withdraw funds for --
MR. McCURRY: By November 15, the United States would then commence an effort, according to the language of the Conference Report, to lift the arms embargo unilaterally or else, and if that were not achieved, then the United States Congress would suspend funding for U. S. participation in --
Q The enforcement of the embargo?
MR. McCURRY: Presumably enforcement of NATO, which means that they would -- since we do that through NATO, I guess they would cut funding for a NATO operation in which the United States is participating.
Q There has been no obligation for the United States to do it until it's passage. I thought that this President's and Nunn's proposal to --
MR. McCURRY: I only meant it had not been enacted yet. It hasn't gone to final passage yet.
Q A couple on refugees?
MR. McCURRY: Okay. Let's do Ralph and then come back to Bill. Ralph?
Q A couple questions on the refugee status at Guantanamo and so on. What changes, if any, are you engaged in or what meticulous planning are you engaged in for flow of refugees to and/or from Guantanamo, following the deployment of the multinational force in Haiti?
MR. McCURRY: Well, they really are not directly related, so far as I know. There has been, obviously, a very abrupt end, if not, you know, a significant decrease in the out-migration from Cuba. Most of those Cuban migrants that have been picked up have been going to Guantanamo, but that seems to have been effectively stopped by the Cuban Government in lines with the negotiated accord with the United States concerning immigration. And we have not had any, as far as I know, not any increase or change in the status of Haitian refugees who have been picked up by the Coast Guard and taken to Guantanamo.
Q And is it your planning and expectation that that status would not change with the deployment of military police in Haiti?
MR. McCURRY: Well, not necessarily. I mean, they are still -- they have been in the process, Ralph, of moving people from Guantanamo to Panama and making preparations to move Haitians from Guantanamo to Suriname. But I think that is all taking place and being planned and being worked on irrespective of anything involving Haiti.
Now, obviously because they are in the same general theater, there is probably some overlap of military issues and what type of transport craft are available, but I'd really have to check in much greater detail at the Pentagon to --
Q You obviously are not expecting any new flow of refugees or people trying to escape Haiti when the military deployment takes place.
MR. McCURRY: Quite to the contrary. The reasons why in many cases they are fleeing are those that we discover have a well-founded fear of persecution, is that they are trying to escape the abuses of the current de facto regime. Even those who are not qualified as refugees are quite clearly trying to escape the awful economic conditions that have been brought upon by the de facto regime's disregard for the citizens of Haiti, and the restoration of democracy and the program of international support for rebuilding Haiti that will follow on the restoration of democracy, should give the citizens of Haiti hope, and probably cause many of them to desire to remain in Haiti.
Q Just one more on that. The status of the movements to the so-called safe havens, you already indicated that none of the Haitians have actually moved, is that correct?
MR. McCURRY: That's correct. None of them have --.
Q The safe haven plan that was initiated for the Haitians, I guess several months ago, has not in fact been implemented. What about the Cubans, how many have actually been -- ?
MR. McCURRY: They have, Ralph, on the first point, on Haitians who are going to Suriname as a safe haven, they have had volunteers from the Haitians in Guantanamo who are ready to go to Suriname, and they have been prepared to depart for the last several days.
They have not been able to make that transfer mostly because of weather, I am told. There has been very bad weather in the Caribbean.
There have been 838 Cubans flown from Guantanamo to safe haven facilities in Panama to date. Those are all volunteers from the Cubans who are currently at GITMO, who then are transported by international organizations for migration flights using existing charters down to Panama.
Q Are there any other safe havens among the many that were under discussion?
MR. McCURRY: Well, I don't have the whole -- there are a lot of --
Q But there aren't any others that --
MR. McCURRY: Turks and Caicos. They have not been activated. There were several others. I mean, the fact is, Ralph, that they are well below capacity at the current moment. There are others that could be brought on line if we reach capacity at Guantanamo or at Panama.
Q Mike, not very many Cubans from Guantanamo seem eager to go back to Cuba. At the same time, there is a crush from the Cuban/American community to let them into the States. The State Department officials seem to be talking with Cubans in Miami about at least the conditions in Guantanamo.
Is there any chance that the U. S. will change, or is the U. S. willing to be flexible on this line that they have drawn about not letting these people into the U. S.?
MR. McCURRY: No, no. They are not -- getting to Guantanamo does not get you any closer to Miami. Now, what has happened is that because of the accord reached in New York on Friday, there is now going to have to be a very quick and extensive effort to structure the procedures by which Cubans in Cuba can go to the Interests Sections in Havana and apply for the visas that will be available as a result of the accord that was reached on Friday.
Those procedures are not in place, and, once again, we emphasize to citizens in Cuba that we wish them not to contact the Interests Section at this time. We will advise them properly of when we do have procedures established that will allow us to process effectively the anticipated volume of these requests that we get.
Now that information has also been shared, or is in the process of being shared, with those Cubans who are at Guantanamo, so they will understand the process that exists, but we are telling them, as well, that the procedures in Havana at the Interests Section have not yet been established, and we will notify them when they are established.
I think, for that reason, probably some people have said, "Look, I'll stay here at Guantanamo. At least I'll get fed three times a day." Or they might take the option of going to Panama if they want a different location. So there is a possibility of going to Panama.
But they are not coming to the United States. There is no procedure in place to even consider their departure for the United States. If they want to come to the United States, they have to go back to Havana and apply for a visa at such time that we have got a process in place.
And that, in a nutshell, is the reason why there is no movement. We got a couple questions from (inaudible) why isn't this number of 200 to 250 who have indicated have an interest in coming, going back home, voluntary return to Cuba. Why hasn't that changed? The answer is because we have not tried to make a change at this point. We don't want to try to make a change until we know and can tell people exactly what they have to do in order to go and apply for one of the visas that will be available.
Q Well, if the possibility for -- mean I would think that there would be a possibility for some violent demonstration when those people get dissatisfied with waiting in the camps. What's the reason not to allow them into the U.S.?
MR. McCURRY: Because it is no -- Guantanamo is not a way station on the way to the United States. And we just made that clear over and over again. And we are not going to create any type of flow to Guantanamo that then exceeds our capacity to handle. It is just not a means by which you can get to the United States.
We are interested -- the reason is, we want safe, legal, orderly migration. And we are establishing the procedure to do that consistent with the accord that we reached with the government of Cuba on Friday.
Q Are you seeing signs in the camps of growing potential for violent protesters?
MR. McCURRY: There have been protests from time to time that -- any time that the population at Guantanamo feels like they are being treated unfairly, based on the news accounts that they are hearing, there is a reaction. Predictably it usually involves small numbers of the total population at Guantanamo. But the best thing we can do to head that off is to make sure they have accurate information available to them about the procedures by which they can return to Cuba and apply for a visa legally or exercise other options that they might want to exercise, such as going to Panama.
Coming to the United States is not one of those options.
Q I think you took a question yesterday, Mike, about whether the Cubans at Guantanamo would face prosecution if they returned to Cuba proper to apply for asylum in the United States. Do you have a clear understanding on that?
MR. McCURRY: The understanding we have is that they will not face reprisals if they return. They will be subject to domestic law in Cuba when they return, but we are not aware of any domestic law that includes incarceration or those types of penalties once they return.
Our understanding is that they will be subject to humane treatment and no reprisals.
Q Mike, are any detained in Cuba, though?
MR. McCURRY: Well, the human rights conditions in Cuba have been consistent with those of a totalitarian communist dictatorship, yes.
Q And aren't these people dissidents?
MR. McCURRY: No. In some cases --
Q Why else would they leave the island?
MR. McCURRY: Why else would they -- to get away from the horrible economic conditions that exist in Cuba as a result of the failure of the Castro regime.
Q But could they be arrested, Mike? If they returned to Cuba from Guantanamo, could they be arrested?
MR. McCURRY: Ask the Cuban Government. I just -- we have been assured and have an understanding with the Cuban Government that they will not face reprisals. What consequences they face is a matter of Cuban law and something you have to ask the Cuban Government.
George Gedda is falling asleep. That's because this is going on unmercifully long, I should say.
Q Well, I have another topic I wanted to raise, but, Mike, I see that l--
MR. McCURRY: Do it quickly.
Q Okay. Well, let me follow up Cuba here very quickly.
It looks like the agreement from last Friday is bearing fruit. It appears that the refugee crisis is about to end. And then, just to ask you once again about, has Cuba yet made arrangements to take their people back from Guantanamo?
MR. McCURRY: Well, that's actually what we have been discussing. We are working with them on what we call the modalities of taking those from Guantanamo who want to return to Cuba back in.
We obviously welcome the signs that the Cuban Government does appear to be serious about honoring its commitment to taking effective and humane steps to control the outflow of illegal migrants.
The Coast Guard reports, I believe, as of 6:00 a.m., they have only rescued ten people in the Florida Straits. There were a total of 156 rescued by the Coast Guard yesterday. There is not a great deal of evidence that any rafting activity continues. The Cuban security and law enforcement personnel appear to have taken steps to try to stop that type of activity, which would be consistent with the agreement that we have reached with them.
But that was the situation. Obviously we will continue to monitor it and there will continue to be people that the Coast Guard rescues in coming days, because they are no doubt people still floating out in rafts who departed several days ago, even prior to the agreement itself.
Q And could I just ask one more thing?
MR. McCURRY: Last question.
Q Winston Lord is in Beijing, I believe.
MR. McCURRY: Peter Tarnoff.
Q Oh, it's Peter. Excuse me. Peter Tarnoff. Are fruits from those discussions the issue of arms proliferation perhaps?
MR. McCURRY: Oh, not now. I'll tell you. I'll try to do this quickly, and tell you, by prefacing it. Under Secretary Tarnoff gave a very good press conference in Beijing prior to departure, but he has had -- they had very useful discussions September 12th and 13th in Beijing. He met with Vice Foreign Minister Liu Huaqiu in a third of a series of discussions that they have had following on the agreement of Secretary Christopher and Vice Foreign Minister -- Vice Premier and Foreign Minister Qian Qichen a year ago.
They are prepared to meet periodically on a broad range of global, bilateral and regional issues.
Under Secretary Tarnoff, I saw in one account had, I think, up to twelve hours of meetings with Vice Foreign Minister Liu. He described them as some kind of productive and business-like. (Laughter.) But let's try "energetic and purposeful." How about that? Now what does that translate to in Chinese, I wonder. Energetic and purposeful discussions.
Q Were those the ones on human rights?
MR. McCURRY: They covered a broad range of issues that we deal with on a regular basis with them. Under Secretary Tarnoff raised human rights issues early in the conversations, reiterating our concerns on those issues. The exchange was a useful one and we are going to amplify on it, obviously, when Secretary Shattuck, Assistant Secretary Shattuck and Assistant Minister Qin Huasun continue their human rights dialogue early next month in Washington.
They talked about Taiwan. They talked about M-lls. They talked about a lot of stuff. And it's all in the transcript of the press conference that Under Secretary Tarnoff had.
MR. McCURRY: He met with Qian Qichen, who had just returned from Europe. Qian Qichen had gone with Qin Huasun over.
The briefing is over, in case you want to know.
(The briefing concluded at 1:38 p.m.)
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